SHOP exchanges are online marketplaces intended to serve as a new option for small businesses to compare and purchase health plans for their employees. In California, the SHOP exchange will sell small group marketing plans that are open to businesses with two to 50 employees in 2014, with plans to expand to larger employers with time.
The federal government will run SHOP exchanges in 33 states, and already has scaled back a key feature: the ability for a small business to offer employees a range of SHOP plan choices. Federally run SHOP exchanges will restrict small businesses to a single plan in 2014, rather than letting small companies give their employees a range of plans to choose from.
State-run SHOP exchanges have the same option, according to the HHS rule. HHS also released the forms small businesses and their employees will use to apply for SHOP coverage.
Covered California plans to release SHOP health plans and rates on June 19. For more information on SHOP, go online at www.coveredca.com/small_businesses.
Participatory wellness programs, which generally are available without regard to an individual’s health status, may reimburse for the cost of:
- membership in a fitness center
- rewarding employees for attending a monthly, no-cost health education seminar
- rewarding employees who complete a health risk assessment, without requiring them to take further action.
The final rules will be effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014. To view the final rule, go online at www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx.
The June 3 wellness-program rules complement an Internal Revenue Service regulation published May 3 that tells employers how to calculate the value of wellness programs in determining whether health plans meet “minimum value” and “affordability” standards under the 2010 health care law.